Friday, December 27, 2013

Tricks that Save Us Every Time at the Grocery Store

Just going to the grocery store these days can get expensive.  With product sizes decreasing and prices increasing, we seem to be getting less and less for our money.  However, this doesn’t mean that all is lost when it comes to cutting the weekly grocery bill.  In fact, there are some quite simple steps that may be taken to make significant cuts to food costs.  And our family has a few tricks up our sleeves that help us save each time we head out to the grocery store.

Go together
If your kids are anything like mine, their tastes probably change regularly.  Sometimes they change within a matter of weeks or even days.  One minute they love something, the next they won’t touch it.  This can be especially true when it comes to food.

Therefore, we tend to take our kids along with us to the store.  It’s a true family affair.  I like to go with my wife so that we don’t end up making educated guesses about what the other person wants.  And the kids (at least our oldest) can make selections regarding cereals, lunch options for school, and dinner menus so we aren’t left facing that, “I don’t want to eat THAT!” whining from him when it comes to his meals; and in turn, we aren’t left with costly food waste.

Buy before we need
I tend to take a regular inventory of our commonly used items.  This way, when we start to get low, I’m prepared.  This enables us to buy when such items are on sale, not when we have to have them.  From toilet paper and toothpaste, to cereal and croutons, I’m ready to buy before we’re completely out so that I can make a decision based upon product and price rather than necessity.

Understand consumption levels
I like to buy in bulk when and where needed.  However, buying in bulk can lead to excessive waste if we aren’t using what we buy.

This is where understanding consumption levels can play a key money-saving role in our trips to the store.  Understanding not only what we use, but in what amounts, and how long such products will last (expiration dates), can help us make educated purchases at low prices for the things we’ll use most of or that will last longest.  For example, we eat a lot of cereal, so we can buy in bulk when it’s on sale.  We don’t use much contact solution, but it has a substantial shelf-life, so again, we can buy in bulk when it’s on sale, getting the best bang for our buck.

Make and take a list
I know people who make a list and then forget it at home.  What’s the point?  A list is a critical element in our ability not to make wasteful -- in time, effort, and money -- trips back and forth due to forgotten items.  A list also keeps us on track for buying what we need, and it helps us avoid those impulse buys for what we don’t.

Utilize stores where we don’t need coupons
Coupons might seem like a good money-saving idea at the store.  And depending upon your location and available grocery store selection, they might be.  I used to be a big fan of coupons, and at stores that offer double or triple coupon days, they can still be useful.  However, most of our area stores don’t offer such days.  And many coupons are for name brand or higher priced products.  Therefore, we’ve found that utilizing stores like Aldi, Ultra Foods, Wal-mart, and Target, where grocery prices are already lower or store brands are offered can help us save more money than if we were to buy similar, higher-priced products paired with coupons.

And by using these tricks, we’re able to keep our grocery costs for a family of four between just $200 and $300 a month.


The author is not a licensed financial professional.  The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind.  Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.

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